Tag: Orientation and Mobility

Top Ten List of DON’TS for Motorists

Bumper sticker says "I stop for white canes and dog guides"

One of the major complaints I hear from pedestrians who are legally blind is that motorists don’t know how to react when they encounter a white cane user at a street crossing.

As a result, we have compiled a Top Ten List of DON’Ts for motorists when they see a pedestrian using a white cane or dog guide at street crossings.
(Adapted from a 1998 handout developed by James Hazard & Kathy Zelaya)

Top Ten List of DON’Ts for motorists

10.   Don’t stop your car more than five feet from the crosswalk line or stop line.

9.     Don’t yell out “It’s OK to cross”.

8.     Don’t get impatient when waiting for a pedestrian who is visually impaired to cross. If the pedestrian places the long cane into the street, it usually indicates he or she will begin a street  crossing. If the cane user takes a step back and pulls back the cane from the curb, it usually indicates the person will not be crossing at that time. Proceed with caution.

7.      Don’t consider a “rolling” stop as a complete stop. A Stop sign means STOP!

6.      Don’t turn right on red without coming to a full stop and always look for pedestrians. The RIGHT on RED Law requires drivers to come to a complete stop prior to making a right turn.

5.      Don’t fail to stop for a pedestrian at all crosswalks whether or not there is a traffic signal or stop sign. Come to a full stop.

4.       Don’t stop your car in the middle of the crosswalk.

3.       Don’t pass another stopped car waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street.

2.       Don’t wave to pedestrians who are using a white cane or dog guide to indicate that you are     waiting for them. They CAN NOT see you.

1.        Don’t Honk!

Remember to follow the Massachusetts White Cane Law: All Motorists, when they see a pedestrian who uses a dog guide or white cane at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop!

White Cane Law Promotes Safety and Independence

This month we are pleased to introduce Meg Robertson, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Have you heard about the White Cane Law?

Massachusetts, along with the rest of the country, has a White Cane Law. The Massachusetts White Cane Law states that all motorists, when they see a pedestrian using a guide dog or a white cane at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop.

The Orientation and Mobility Department at the Mass. Commission for the Blind is working to raise public awareness of the White Cane Law. To learn more come and celebrate International White Cane Day at the State House on Friday October 14, from 10-noon.

A symbol of independence

The white cane is a mobility device used by individuals who are legally blind to navigate safely around their communities. It is a symbol of independence, since anyone who is using a white cane is asserting their independence over blindness by continuing to travel within their communities.

There are different types of white canes used by individuals who are legally blind.
Cane choices depend on the individual’s vision impairment, age, height, gait, etc. The main types of white canes are a support cane type, and/or a long thin cane, which are white with red at the bottom of the cane.

Mobility devices offer a choice in support

Individuals who are legally blind but still have functional vision may use the support type cane to alert motorists that the pedestrian is legally blind. These canes can also assist with depth perception on stairs or curbs.

The more common used mobility device is a long white cane. This cane is used for independent travel and to avoid obstacles

Specialized training is needed for both types of canes as well as travel skills. This specialized training is provided by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). All individuals who need a white cane, should be evaluated by a COMS to be sure they get the correct cane and proper training.

A small percentage of people who are legally blind choose a guide dog as a different type of mobility device. Either way, all should receive Orientation & Mobility training with a long cane and street crossing skills before acceptance by a dog guide school. The White Cane Law applies to guide dog users as well.

For more information on white cane training or blindness, contact the Orientation and Mobility Department at the Commission for the Blind www.state.ma.us/mcb or 800-392-6450 x 626-7581 (Voice) or 800-393-6556/TTY.